EFF has released documents related to drone use applications to the FAA obtained in a FOIA request. If I read this correctly, around half of the applications are from universities doing agricultural studies. I think the conspiracy theories will abound.
Incorporating privacy by design into the controls surround domestic drone usage will protect the privacy rights of citizens. Law enforcement has a legitimate interest in surveilling individuals where there is a reasonable suspicion that crime has occurred (or is about to). Drone usage is also warranted where police or civilians would be at high risk for injury. For example, police are advised about a kidnapping, but do not want to alert the kidnappers that they are on to them. This incidents are not everyday occurrences, so nor should the use of drones be everyday occurrences.
Mass surveillance of individuals or gatherings should be limited. Data retention, where no criminal activity has occurred, should be imposed. Town, city and state governments should closely monitor drone usage and have built into law regular reports. Warrants should be required where drone usage would be particularly invasive.
There is no need for drone usage to cause hysteria . . . or violate citizens’ privacy rights.